Crafting Artisan Vodka – Part 1
This is the first of two articles that explore the duelling movements which are revolutionising the way we grow, buy and prepare our food – and also our drink. Food movements are often discussed in popular media, drink movements less so. Overall, the scale of agricultural production and food retail has increased; meanwhile, there has also been international support for food movements that prioritise the scaling down of food production. Locally produced, organic, Slow Food and a return to traditional plant varieties and production techniques are but a few examples of movements that oppose industrial large-scale production. While these food movements are now very familiar to us, these same trends have gone largely unnoticed in the production of alcoholic beverages.
Perhaps drink trends are less often considered because we have a different relationship with food than with alcohol; food is a necessity that we depend upon for survival, so we place greater attention upon our daily sustenance. As caretakers of our children, we feel responsible for the food choices that we make for them in order that they grow up healthily. Perhaps, alcohol is also considered as an indulgence, and as such we are more inclined to turn a blind eye to its contents. While these are valid reasons for scrutinising the food that we eat, the fact remains that both our food and drink choices have an impact on the health of our bodies, our communities, and on our planet.
“While these food movements are now very familiar to us, these same trends have gone largely unnoticed in the production of alcoholic beverages.”
Movements that scale down food and drink production are not only reshaping producer-consumer relationships in the drink sector but are also transforming the quality and flavours of distilled spirits. Because of the care and attention that is being placed upon ingredient sourcing and selection, distillation techniques and production processes, a quality of alcohol is being created that was not previously possible. This care is reflected in the final flavour and mouth-feel of crafted spirits, where even subtle changes in terroir can be discerned. In the case of vodka, these flavour factors have been traditionally filtered out, however, a new artisan approach to vodka production embraces and highlights these subtleties, bucking the trend towards ultra-filtration.
While the fallacy that “all vodkas taste the same” is still a stubbornly accepted tenet, there is growing awareness of the turn towards small-scale craft distillation; connoisseurs are waking up to just how vast the difference is between vodkas produced in bulk quantities and those of small batch craft production. This rise in quality means that vodka is increasingly being sipped, rather than shot or mixed, as one might drink a dry sherry, whiskey or sake. The flavour notes in craft vodka are bright and vibrant, the warmth of the alcohol is smooth and even, and the effect of the spirit is invigorating without discomfort.
Chopin vodka is a small-batch producer of artisan craft vodkas. We chose to produce our vodkas this way because we believe that the things we place into our bodies are significant for our health as well as our pleasure. We believe that small-scale, successful businesses create meaningful jobs that support our communities and generate a sense of pride among the people who live there – we are proud of our farmers and our employees, and we believe that they are proud of us. We believe that that ways we grow and produce food have an impact on our beautiful planet – we are caretakers of the earth and we chose to work in ways that improve its wellbeing. And we believe that the flavours of our vodkas are distinctive, of the highest possible quality, and we are proud to share them with you.